July 24, 2024
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Multiple US State Regulators Allege AI Trading dApp is a Ponzi Scheme

Montana, Texas, and Alabama securities regulators have filed joint enforcement actions against cryptocurrency trading platform YieldTrust.ai, alleging it is “operating a Ponzi scheme.”

YieldTrust.ai and its Romanian owner, Stefan Ciopraga, claimed the decentralized application (dApp) called “YieldBot” is “powered by cutting-edge artificial intelligence” and is “capable of executing 70 times more trades with 25 times higher profits than any human trader could,” according to April 4 statements from Montanian, Texas, and Alabama regulators.

The regulators claimed YieldTrust failed to provide “any proof” to investors that the AI-powered bot existed, “let alone that it performs at the level YieldTrust.ai claims.”

In its cease and desist order, Montana’s regulator stated that YieldBot was developed for Binance’s BNB Smart Chain and could interface with staking programs to generate returns of up to 2.2% per day for new investors by: “[Analyzing] the crypto markets and – in milliseconds – make its own trading decisions, autonomously choosing from hundreds of trading methods and chaining them together to create unique strategies – achieving an exhilarating performance.”

However, state regulators claimed that an independent firm auditing YieldBot’s smart contract found it to be “dangerous” because “the deploying team retained sufficient control to prevent users from withdrawing their assets.”

According to the regulator’s statements and an April 4 tweet from Montana’s securities commissioner, Troy Downing, scammers are apparently capitalizing on the AI hype “by developing high-tech ploys to deceive investors.”

A Montana regulator’s order requires YieldTrust.ai to cease and desist all activity in the state and seeks a total fine of $100,000, while the Texas State Securities Board issued multiple cease and desist orders.

YieldTrust.ai allegedly announced its intention to cease operations after the audit of its smart contract was published, which appears to be confirmed by the lack of trading activity according to DappRadar data.

The regulator’s orders, on the other hand, accuse YieldTrust.ai of “raising capital from the public to cover withdrawals from prior investors,” which, along with the promise of high returns, is a hallmark of a Ponzi scheme.

YieldTrust.ai’s website has been taken down, and its Twitter account has been deactivated. YieldTrust.ai and Ciopraga could not be reached for comment.

Since the release of the ChatGPT AI chatbot by AI research company OpenAI on Nov. 30, AI has become far more visible, accessible, and surrounded by hype.

Despite its occasional inaccuracy, ChatGPT has proven to be a powerful tool, with the most recent version capable of passing the bar, SATs, and even identifying exploits in smart contracts.